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John Byrne
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 2:49pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Came upon THIS site, archiving essays by various folk who found their different ways into the Oxford camp.

Some illuminating reading, for those who might be interested.

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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 6:30pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Thanks!

Ironic story there from Loretta Breuning, Phd working in Evolutionary Psychology.

She read James Shapiro's "Contested Will" as a starting point and sneered at authorship doubters. But later she encountered two things that made her reconsider -- one was that she discovered Shapiro misrepresents the case for doubt and two, her field led her to deeply understand the group-think pressures that would lead Shapiro to do that.

So Shapiro led her to Oxfordianism.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 7:41pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

@ Mark: I haven't read all the mini-essays on the site, but Dr Breuning's one seems typical in its dismissal of Stratfordians as being complacent, or even cowardly, more concerned with conforming to opinions than pursuing the truth.

"The unanimity of academics on the authorship question seemed mighty suspicious to me" - why? Why should consensus denote conspiracy? Couldn't it simply be that experts in their field have come to the same conclusion because it's the correct one?
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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 8:08pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Steven: "The unanimity of academics on the authorship question seemed mighty suspicious to me" - why?

**

You ask "why"? as if she doesn't explain why. But she does.

She says it is because two things: a) as an expert, she never sees that kind of unanimity in any field; b) she saw the leading Stratfordian "expert" (Shapiro) build his case on a "straw man" argument instead of honestly representing the case for doubt.

You back up to squares and ask, "Why? Couldn't it simply be that experts in their field have come to the same conclusion because it's the correct one?"

First off, her assertion does not contradict this. She observes that 'the entire field' has an unheard of unanimity-- not just 'the experts.'

Second, the question is historical, not literary. A degree in literature does not make one a historian. She refers to unanimity in the Shakespeare lit field. There is no such unanimity in the field of historians.
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 8:34pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Mark wrote:

a) as an expert, she never sees that kind of unanimity in any field

Steven: I'd doubt her expertise right away, then, given that there isn't unanimity about Shakespeare's authorship, with increasing attention being given to contributions made by the various collaborators Shakespeare worked with throughout his life on the plays that nevertheless usually bear his name alone.
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Mark wrote:

 b) she saw the leading Stratfordian "expert" (Shapiro) build his case on a "straw man" argument instead of honestly representing the case for doubt.

Steven: That seems a bit unfair to Shapiro. He doesn't believe the Oxfordian (or Marlovian, or any other Alternative Authorship candidate) position, but he doesn't mis-represent it. Or do you think he does, and, if so, in what way?
------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------
Mark wrote: A degree in literature does not make one a historian.

Steven: No, but it gives one a strong sense of the historical period in which the literature has been produced. It's hard to study Shakespeare and not develop - indeed, to have to develop - an understanding of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, in the same way that studying Austen would entail gaining knowledge about the Regency period, Dickens the Victorian Age, Wilfred Owen, World War One,etc.

Dr Breuning's PhD is in Evolutionary Psychology - it's difficult to see how that increases her literary or historical understanding.
------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------- --
Mark wrote: There is no such unanimity in the field of historians.

Steven: ? There are lots of aspects of history that are argued over, true, but there are facts that are agreed upon - indeed, which have to be accepted in order to build one's argument.


Edited by Steven Brake on 05 August 2022 at 8:35pm
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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 9:00pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Mark wrote: A degree in literature does not make one a historian.

Steven: No, but it gives one a strong sense of the historical period in which the literature has been produced.

**

The fundamental disconnect in this assertion is the entire basis of the Stratfordian argument. Being familiar with history in no way makes one closer to being a historian.

The conviction that the Authorship Question is a matter for Lit professors is obviously wrong. Comically wrong.

Still it remains the general presumptive starting point in the halls of academia. --Not because it makes sense, but because people like Shapiro fight so viciously to keep it that way (which his book is an excellent example of -- mostly consisting of attacks on the character and psychology of people who would question his accepted interpretation of the evidence).
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Steven Brake
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 9:12pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Mark wrote: Being familiar with history in no way makes one closer to being a historian.

Steven: No, familiarity isn't synonymous with expertise, but pretty much any field of literary study necessarily entails understanding  the historical period in which said literature has been produced, and, often, how its subsequently been interpreted. 
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Mark wrote: The conviction that the Authorship Question is a matter for Lit professors is obviously wrong. Comically wrong.

Steven: Agreed, and I don't know anyone interested in the Authorship Question who would say otherwise.

Regarding your comment about Shapiro - again, I'm not sure what you mean? In what sense is he "vicious"? Contested Will can be very funny at times, but I wouldn't call it mean-spirited. 

And Dr Breuning's somewhat free and loose use of Evolutionary Psychology to suggest that Stratfordians are complacent, cowardly or both is hardly fair! 
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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 10:18pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Steven: Agreed, and I don't know anyone interested in the Authorship Question who would say otherwise.

Mark: Maybe you can think of someone, like, I don't know, maybe Shapiro? (Of course, the fact that you can't admit how deeply mean-spirited Shapiro's misrepresentation of the Authorship Question is might explain why you don't see this).

You are already making this personal with Dr. Breuning by attacking her instead of granting her a good-faith expert's opinion. She observes that group psychology tends toward peer-pressure, even among Shakespeare scholars. Nearly 100% agreement on anything is the kind of evidence you find when this dynamic is at work. You want to carve out a special exception for Shakespeare scholars? Based on what?

I suggest let's not, you and I, do this dance. We've been down this road together before.

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Steven Brake
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 10:31pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Mark:....the fact that you can't admit how deeply mean-spirited Shapiro's misrepresentation of the Authorship Question is... (excerpt from longer statement above)

Steven: Again, I don't know what you mean by "mean-spirited"? Contested Will was often very funny at times. Shapiro doesn't believe in any alternative authorship theories, but whenever I've read him, he seems perfectly civil.
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Mark: You are already making this personal with Dr. Breuning by attacking her

Steven: Oh, come on! I've hardly "attacked" her!
------------------------------------------------------------ ----------------------------------------
Mark: Nearly 100% agreement on anything is the kind of evidence you find when this dynamic is at work. You want to carve out a special exception for Shakespeare scholars? Based on what?

Steven: I don't. The underlying premise of Dr Breuning's argument - and, by extension, alternative authorship theories generally - seems to me grounded in unfair characterisation of Shakespeareans as at best complacent and at worst cowardly.
------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------------
Mark wrote: I suggest let's not, you and I, do this dance. We've been down this road together before.

Steven: Indeed! OK, yes, I'll remain seated, unless someone else asks me to dance. :)


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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 05 August 2022 at 11:03pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Steven: I don't. The underlying premise of Dr Breuning's argument - and, by extension, alternative authorship theories generally - seems to me grounded in unfair characterisation of Shakespeareans as at best complacent and at worst cowardly.

**

If you completely ignore everything she wrote, sure.

Steven, you are excellent at taking parts of my posts out of their context and then arguing them.

But that is not conversation. I think that's most of all why this "dance" is not successful. Thanks for you time.

Edited by Mark Haslett on 05 August 2022 at 11:05pm
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 08 August 2022 at 6:06pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Historian David McCullough, now sadly "late," wrote in his foreward to Charlton Ogburn’s "The Mysterious William Shakespeare":

"This is scholarly detective work at its most absorbing. More, it is close analysis by a writer with a rare sense of humanity. The strange, difficult, contradictory man who emerges as the real Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is not just plausible but fascinating and wholly believable. It is hard to imagine anyone who reads the book with an open mind ever seeing Shakespeare or his works in the same way again.”


Edited by Michael Penn on 08 August 2022 at 6:08pm
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Joe Smith
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Posted: 08 August 2022 at 6:57pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I don’t have a dog in the hunt, but these articles and subsequent
conversations fascinate me.
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